Scientists have turned up some grim new figures about the state of oceanic sharks: of 21 species of pelagic sharks and rays, 16 are in danger of extinction primarily due to overfishing. That's 76%.
The international study, organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is the first to determine the global threat status of these 21 species, and the results were published in Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.
The biggest threat to these sharks comes from the fin soup market, though bycatch inadvertently catching sharks while targeting other fish is also a problem for some species.
The rise in China's wealth has been described in many ways an increased demand for automobiles, increased consumption of oil, increased standard of living. But it also means increased demand for an Asian delicacy, shark fin soup. At present, there are simply too many sharks being caught, their fins sliced from their bodies, their carcasses discarded and their fins cooked up in broth.
The current rate of biodiversity loss is ten to a hundred times greater than historic extinction rates, and as humans make increasing use of ocean resources it is possible that many more aquatic species, particularly sharks, are coming under threat, said Nicholas Dulvy from the Centre for Environment, Fishers and Aquaculture Science at Lowestoft Laboratory in Lowestoft, U.K. This does not have to be an inevitability. With sufficient public support and resulting political will, we can turn the tide."
The group made recommendations to governments to better manage fisheries to protect sharks. Individuals can focus on finding other forms of soup to enjoy.
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